Buffy is a Labrador Retriever who isn’t shy about asking her human for belly rubs and a cuddle. When she sees dad sitting on the couch she jumps up in a flash and leans right in for a pet. Not only that she pulls his arm towards her to make sure he gives her the attention she’s seeking. And when that’s not quite enough, she turns to her dad to give him a kiss and demand more belly rubs.
It’s funny to see Buffy in action and her demanding attention. She sure knows how to get what she wants. Her actions back up a recent study that concluded that Labradors and German Shepherds have become needier over time and have lost some of their “canine independence” as result of breeding practices that emphasize making dogs more affectionate as pets.
The study, recently published by the Royal Society Open Science Journal, focused on 56 dogs of different breeds and aimed to detect the levels of “human-directed gazing” in relation to a dog’s problem solving skills. They set up a feeding experiment where the dogs had to retrieve food hidden in an upturned strainer placed in the dogs’ gardens or local parks. Once the dogs became familiar with where and how to get the hidden food, the scientists bolted the strainer to the ground making it impossible for the dogs to get at the food. They then timed how long it took the dogs to turn to a human for help.
The “human-directed gazing” was the indicator of neediness and dependency as this behavior is associated with a dog seeking reassurance and support from their owners.
The scientists found Labradors Retrievers were the quickest to ask for help. Although the experiment seems to conclude the Labs are the most dependent, we’d say they are also probably the smartest in knowing that humans can help them get at the food! In any event, we also think Buffy shows just how clever Labradors are in getting the attention they want, and not just through human-directed gazing either!